In the Midwest, Nolan Ryan is most notoriously known as the man who put Robin Ventura in a head lock when the White Sox third baseman inexplicably charged the fireballing legend.
But down here in Dallas, where I currently make my home, Nolan Ryan is revered on the same level as the likes of Roger Staubach, the Bush family, and guns. As Ron Burgundy might say, Nolan’s kind of a big deal.
And you know what? He deserves every last drop of respect and admiration that he gets, and today seems like as good a day as any to tip a cap in Nolan’s direction after the outstanding weekend he just enjoyed.
First, Nolan’s Rangers played in the franchise’s first ever ALCS game. They didn’t win it, but they did come back the next day and even the series at 1-1. Not only did that snap a long playoff losing streak to the Yankees, it was the Rangers’ first ever home playoff victory and their first ever victory this deep in the playoffs.
Why are the Rangers suddenly doing so well after so many years of futility? Obviously the players deserve credit, and so does manager Ron Washington, but don’t underestimate what Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels have accomplished as a President-GM combo. The Texas turnaround they’ve authored has been nothing short of remarkable.
The second reason this weekend was so great for Nolan Ryan is that he got the opportunity show everyone that, even at 63 years old, he’s still got it.
Nolan threw out the first pitch of the ALCS, and though this isn’t a perfect angle of it, you can see that he can still fire it up there around the plate pretty good.
Something tells me Ryan could probably be a specialty one-inning reliever if he really wanted to. (And hey, if Neftali Feliz doesn’t start making the 9th inning easier, Ryan just may!)
And finally, Ryan did something this past weekend that every single fan of every single sport in every single city in America should stand up and cheer for.
It seems that before Game 1 of the ALCS, the Rangers decided to raise the price of parking from $10 to $15. Rangers fans were predictably frustrated by the change, so what did Ryan do? He did what any team president/owner who cares about his fans would do: he rolled the prices back to $10 and even issued refunds to fans who had paid the additional $5 the night before.
In contrast, the parking at Yankee Stadium was increased from $23 to $40 for the postseason.
So here’s to you Nolan Ryan, a man with proven leadership ability, one of the most wicked fastballs in the history of baseball, and, most importantly, a man with impeccable character and integrity who actually respects his team’s fans.
Image source: Otero/AP via New York Daily News
Even though you once beat the crap out of my favorite team’s third baseman, you deserve any and all praise you get while your franchise enjoys a rare – before you came around, anyway – moment in the sun.